Marketing has certainly got a lot more complicated in the last few years. So many platforms, so many ways to connect and communicate. At the crux of it all though, is the need to build a community and this community needs to consist of our biggest fans. This doesn't matter whether you are a large global corporation or a micro business running from a garage.
The focus of our marketing is always about building a community, and that is not as easy as it sounds. We work really hard to build a loyal fan base, on social media, in real life, via our digital profile - everywhere. It's really hard to have this hard work amount to nothing because of some very avoidable mistakes that get made more often than you would think.
My advice is simple, avoid these 7 deadly sins of community building and you will be fine:
1. Do nothing but sell, sell, sell to your community.
When it comes to building an engaged community we need to add value to them in some shape or form. If all you do is sell to them, they will soon lose interest in you and your message. The primary focus for all of us when it comes to social media, in particular, should be to add value to the lives of the people who are in our community - keep doing this and you will build a very loyal and devoted community. It doesn't mean you can't sell to them, it just means you can't oversell to them and offer no real form of value.
2. Stop engaging with your community in a meaningful way.
Over time I've noticed a lot of people who have built a great community stop doing the things they used to do and start just using the community as a means to make money.
3. Fail to keep up with your community and the way they like to communicate.
Communities evolve. They grow up, mature, adopt new trends, change direction etc. It's really important to know your community incredibly well so that you can see trends as they are happening and ensure that you are still communicating in the most effective manner.
4. You start over communicating with your community.
This is a sure fire way to lose your community - start bombarding them with way too much communication. We all know what it's like when we sign up for something and next thing we are getting a hundred emails a day from someone trying to sell us something. We don't like it. If it is someone who we connected with because we liked their message and wanted to know more, it's even more upsetting when their actions suddenly change and they begin to spam us.
5. You sell out and try to act like you haven't.
I've seen this happen a lot. A company or an individual that we have a connection with suddenly has a major direction change that really goes against what they used to stand for. In other words, they have sold out and no amount of sweet talking is going to change that fact, yet they are determined to do their best to sweet talk us. But we won't buy it.
6. You lose the edge that made you appealing to others in the first place.
When we start building a community we tend to have a bit of a rough edge, we are figuring things out as we go, getting it right sometimes, getting it wrong often. Most importantly, we are completely committed to our community and it shows. If we lose this edge, we tend to lose our community, so value it don't, be too quick to make everything smooth and polished.
7. You let your community outgrow you.
This means we need to stay relevant to our community - and it's a lot harder than most people realize. I think it's natural for us to outgrow the communities we are in over time. For those of us building and managing a community we need to stay very tightly connected with people (yes real live people) so that they don't outgrow us. This tight bond is where we find out their issues and challenges (which always change over time) and ensure that we know what is going on, as opposed to guessing what is going on.
Don't let your community outgrow you.